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Robert Davidson


Director, Northrop Frye Centre

Davidson foto BNE 2022.jpg

Bob Davidson, Professor of Spanish & Catalan, and affiliate faculty with the Culinaria Research Centre, specializes in Modern Peninsular Literature and Culture with an emphasis on food and hospitality. Prof. Davidson is the author of Jazz Age Barcelona (U of Toronto Press, 2009; shortlisted for the Canada Prize in the Humanities) and The Hotel: Occupied Space (U of Toronto Press, 2018).


Current projects include a study of material culture and early 20th-century Spanish and Catalan narrative (By and About Things) and a new research project entitled The Scent of Spain: Fragrance, Odour and Culture that 

considers key fragrances and scents that contributed to the Spanish olfactory environment from the beginning of the modern fragrance industry in the country to the early 2000s.


He is the founder and co-editor of UTP’s Toronto Iberic book series and has held visiting positions at The Johns Hopkins University, Queen Mary - University of London (Institut Ramon Llull Visiting Faculty) and University College Cork. Prof. Davidson currently serves as Director of the Northrop Frye Centre at Victoria College and as Chair of the Manuscript Review Committee of University of Toronto Press.

In 2022, Professor Davidson was awarded the XXXIV Premi Josep M. Batista i Roca – Memorial Enric Garriga Trullols for the promotion of Catalan culture abroad.


He takes his martini with a little extra vermouth and an olive. 

Current Research

By and About Things

This is a book about objects, the narrative tension generated when they become things, and how select Madrid and Barcelona-based authors and artists from the pre-Civil War era used them in especially innovative ways.

The Scent of Spain: Fragrance, Odour and Culture

This research project is about the smell of modern Spain. Through examinations of key fragrance notes and accords, both fine and functional, I argue that smell has been an important, yet overlooked, component of late Spanish modernity.

Upcoming Lectures

The Joanot Martorell Annual Lecture


December 1st, 2021  19h GMT (14h EST)


Sponsored by:

Instituto Cervantes London and Centre of Catalan Studies at Queen Mary University

"A Renewed Renaixença: Landscape, Narrative, Olfaction"


Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s Pen Faulkner award-winning Call Me Zebra, is a novel of exilic return that draws on Don Quixote, The Inferno and The Odyssey. At its core, though, it is a metatextual and intensely identity-focused book that privileges the places of modern Catalan literature. Within the pantheon of classics that the author engages, Jacint Verdaguer’s Canigó and its eponymous mountain loom largest. But how to interpret the fact that this key Renaixença work figures so centrally in a twenty-first century novel? In this talk, I will explore this question and posit that the book’s genesis in excursionisme echoes that of the epic poem and, as a result, contributes to a renewed trend towards a physical—and even olfactive—experience of the Catalan landscape as a recuperative mode.

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